SheKnows Expert: I’m not PICKY, I am Particular with a PURPOSE!

 

she knows article PICKY Nov 15 2015Thank you to SheKnows for inviting me to write for them as an Expert. My first article is now live:  I’m not a picky diner, I have serious food allergies. I hope you will chose to share one of your stories in my Gratitude Travel Writing Contest. You are the rainbow in someone else’s cloud–they need to hear your story! Enter by THANKSGIVING!

During St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, I was served a piece of chocolate cake. I had specifically alerted the restaurant team that I am allergic to strawberries when I ordered. Suddenly, I knew they had simply brushed off the offending fruit from piece and served it to me. I was rushed to my hotel to take medication and was able to participate in the parade the following day, but I was very shaken by the whole experience. When I returned home, I told my sister emphatically,

“I am never eating pastry again.”

She said, “You are not allergic to pastry.”
I said, “Yes, but I am allergic to stupidity.”

My experience lately in California has been that chefs are happy to accommodate customers’ needs. I was invited to a private dinner at Dave Koz’s home to celebrate the start of his new restaurant venture, Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge, in Beverly Hills. When I realized the efforts the culinary team had gone through to accommodate my food issues, I was embarrassed. I apologized to Chef Scott Howard and he said, “I have a food allergy, also. I am happy to make this meal work for you.”

I still feel concerned about being perceived as picky and a troublesome guest. The impact of my special requests depends on how attached the other person is to the outcome. Chef Scott understands certain foods don’t work for everyone, even if the fresh berries from the local farm are a centerpiece of his meal.

At Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, Chef Olivier knows all about my food issues, requests and preferences. After we cooked souffle together in his kitchen, he asked if he could send out items for me and my dinner companion. I thought about if I could trust his choices for me. It turned out to be one of the best meals I have had. I could eat everything! It felt great to be understood and not be concerned about the dishes that arrived or what my dining companions would think.

I realized that while chefs are willing to work with me, my dining companions have a larger range of opinions. One friend who also has food allergies was disappointed when I would not share the dishes she could eat. I was shocked when she called me picky, as my expectation was that she would be understanding. She wanted me to eat what she wanted. It was not about sharing something or finding common ground, it was about getting her way. That was revealing to me.

At the Outpost restaurant in Goleta, our dishes arrived carefully selected by Chef Derek to match my food requirements. Everything was fantastic. My dining companion was surprised certain dishes he felt would be highlighted were missing. Chef looked at him and said, “But Lisa won’t eat that!”

Like all relationships, sharing at restaurants works better with fewer surprises. By managing expectations with dining companions and telling chefs preferences in advance, I have had less dramatic experiences. I am still wary of pastry. However, I now classify myself as “particular,” not “picky” — and it is with a purpose.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.5 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers”

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